Wake Up, Girls! Shichinin no Idol – Anime Movie Review

8 comments

And the start of an idol franchise begins with a movie. Is Wake Up, Girls! Shichinin no Idol worth your time?

The short answer is yes.


One of the important aspects of an idol franchise is that the main idol group (that is, the idol group upon which the series revolves around) is the underdog. No one would care about a series where the main characters are part of a successful idol group from the very beginning. They must start from the bottom level and claw their way up towards the top. As a result, recruiting the girls to join this “underground” idol group is necessary and often takes several episodes.

That’s why the fact that first installment of the Wake Up, Girls! franchise is a movie makes for an interesting move. Instead of sitting on our hands and watching several girls hem and haw for several weeks, we get to see them join Wake Up, Girls! over the course of a single 52 minute movie. While it could make the movie seem a bit rushed, I personally think it was a good idea because it allows the anime series to focus on other things aside from the recruitment drive (compare this to the Love Live! franchise where both μ’s and Aqours take over half a season to come together as a group).

The movie, and the Wake Up, Girls! franchise as a whole, are a more realistic take on idol group shows compared to other similar series in many regards. Expect some bittersweet setbacks to emerge. Said developments are not fully fleshed out until the anime series, however, so the movie can feel, at times, incomplete. You’ll just have to watch the anime series to see how the story of Wake Up, Girls! progresses from here.

Speaking of realism, the movie only features one insert song. While this is realistic considering that it takes time for (newbie) idol groups to learn and master songs (plus the fact that songs take time to be written and not everyone is willing to give no-names a chance), this could be condemned as unimpressive compared to other idol series. Still, タチアガレ! / Tachiagare! is a wonderful song, so at least the only prominent vocal song is of high quality, right? There was also a distinct lack of CG during the performance, which is unusual for an idol franchise. The animation as a whole is also rather average and dips into subpar at times, frankly, which isn’t a good thing for a movie.

As for the yuri, it’s basically non-existent. Maybe some could argue that Airi and Mayu have something going on. Or that Megumi and Mayu have a spark. Or that Shiho has some intense feelings towards Mayu. Mayu is basically the shipping goddess in this movie, in other words. But it’s all probably just in shippers’ heads, unfortunately. If viewers really want gay idols, Love Live! has that in spades.

Verdict:

Overall, I think Wake Up, Girls! Shichinin no Idol is a movie that can stand by itself as a more realistic, serious take on the schoolgirl idol genre. It is, however, a bit rushed since a trademark of idol shows, the recruitment drive, is shoved into a 52 minute movie even though the entire process usually takes several episodes. Furthermore, several plot points are brought up in this movie that are not fully addressed until the anime series, which started airing at the same time as this movie’s “launch date.” Finally, the animation is lackluster in several key moments and average at best in others.

If viewers really wanted to, they can skip this movie and start with the anime series considering how the first two episodes of Wake Up, Girls! features an OP that essentially summarizes the movie’s events in 1-and-a-half minutes. Nevertheless, I would still recommend watching this movie first in order to determine whether or not you want to commit and watch Wake Up, Girls! In my opinion, it’s a wonderful franchise that has its downsides yet is definitely underappreciated (and I don’t use that word lightly, unlike certain anime bloggers who claimed Sangatsu no Lion was underappreciated).

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8 comments on “Wake Up, Girls! Shichinin no Idol – Anime Movie Review”

  1. Honestly, the producers shot themselves in the foot by calling Shichinin no Idol a movie. Placing it in that category brought in a whole host of baggage and expectations and has inevitably lead to disappointment and confusion on the part of viewers and reviewers. Though it played in theatres rather than being aired or streamed, Shichinin no Idol is actually nothing more than a double length premiere episode. That’s why there are so many things raised in the movies that aren’t addressed until later in the series proper. In the same way, the series itself presumes that you’ve seen the movie and the background material presented there. It’s not intended to be viewed as a standalone work, and you can’t really skip it because the brief summary that opens the first episode of the anime leaves out so much of the meat.

    I would also question whether the lengthy “introducing the girls” and “getting the band together” approach of the Love Live! franchise is actually necessary. iDOLM@STER takes roughly the same approach as WUG – there’s a brief introduction to the girls (a single normal episode), and then they get straight into the meat of the show. Rather than spending a bunch of time establishing characters, they introduce the bare basics and concentrate on “showing not telling” as the characters grow and change (and interact with each other) over the course of the series.

    Love Live! made a different set of narrative choices because, in both incarnations, it’s built around a strong central character who carries us through the process of “getting the band together”. (AKB0048 and numberless other idol shows also use this structure.) At the end of the day, Love Live! is largely Honoka’s (and Chika’s) story. WUG and iDOLM@STER on the other hand are structured more around the ensemble and the group than any singular character. (Save perhaps a slighter greater emphasis on Mayu in WUG.) Thus they concentrate more on the interactions between the cast and gradual character growth rather than the Big Dramatic Moment that (all too) often characterizes the Love Live! franchise.

    With all that in mind, I’d say that WUG doesn’t skip over the “getting the band together” phase simply because they were all introduced in the first two “episodes” (the movie). In reality, that phase extends across nearly the entire 12 episode run of the anime – episodes 7 and (particularly) 9 are the key turning points. Both of these episodes work as well as they do because they spend so much time in previous episodes developing the girls as individuals *becoming* a group _together_ rather than taking Love Live!’s approach of individuals *joining* an existing group.

    (And now I’ve written more here than I’ve managed to write for my own weekly entry due tomorrow… I ALWAYS right better when I have someone to bounce off of.)

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    1. Is it really that confusing or disappointing? I did not find it difficult to understand that Shichinin no Idol comes first after a minute of observation. I also didn’t think it was a bad thing that some things were brought up in this prequel movie only to be addressed later on in the series / movies. It served as a way to keep viewers interested and wanting to see the series / the other two movies in order to see these things being explained.

      I mean, /optimally/ you’ll want to see Shichinin no Idol and then the anime series, but some people may not want to sit through Shichinin no Idol or don’t have access to it. What I’m suggesting in the review that if push comes to shove, viewers can just start with the anime series if they /have/ to or /want/ to. Yes, they would miss the finer details but the show should still prove to be engaging.

      Well, other than WUG the only schoolgirl idol franchise I have exposure to is the Love Live! franchise, which is why I brought up the latter. Maybe I erred in being too general with my statements. I honestly would have liked to watched more schoolgirl idol series before typing up this review, but certain factors have necessitated my rushing.

      Good point about the differences between Love Live! and WUG in regards to the group and the individual. That being said, it isn’t as if the girls in Love Live! suddenly stopped developing as individuals once they joined.

      (Well, glad to be of service in some way. Hopefully you carry that passion into tomorrow’s writing).

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      1. I watched the series as it was streaming, rather than marathoning as you did, so my experience was a little different. I was a little confused after ep 2, and about that time I figured out the movie was actually a prequel and after watching it felt I had a much better handle. (Particularly the President’s character and role and Mayu’s backstory.)

        So, it’s not really optional and it’s not really required I guess… Just *very* strongly recommended if it’s available. (Which it currently is on Crunchy.)

        To really grasp WUG I think you need to have watched iDOLM@STER. Despite nominally being in the same genre (idol), WUG and the LL franchise don’t really have all that much in common. The LL franchise focuses on self managed schoolgirls in a non-professional (school club) setting. iDOLM@STER and WUG present career idols (not all of whom are schoolgirls) in a professional setting with professional management playing a role in their careers and in the plot. (The level of competency and sanity at Green Leaves is certainly questionable, but President Tange _is_ experienced and knowledgeable.)

        Plus iDOLM@STER is a pretty good show in it’s own right. It’s no accident that a scene from it ended up in the “Favorite scenes” post I made a couple of weeks back.

        Cruising through this week’s entry, then I hit a wall… I’ve edited my writeup on both Alice and Tsuki twice each and I’m not happy with either one so I’m taking a break. I probably will be late again this week despite the huge carrot I’ve hung in front of myself (the Euph light novel should be delivered today).

        Liked by 1 person

      2. That’s fair. If you put it that way, then the prequel movie probably is more or less heavily recommended if you want to watch the anime series and if you want to avoid confusion. Good point.

        Hmmm. I don’t agree with this sentiment. I did say that Love Live! is my first /anime/ in the idol genre. And as you say, the show isn’t about professional idols. But I’m not a stranger to the concept of professional idols since I’ve read a few manga about the genre and all. Maybe other people might have been lost without prior experience, but I managed.

        I do intend on watching iDOLM@STER when I have the time, however, so there’s that. Thank you for giving me more incentive to do so.

        Ah…yeah I guess that happens. Better late than never, though. Hopefully you enjoy the Hibike light novel!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m not familiar with this franchise – which says nothing about anything considering that I haven’t seen even a single idol anime- but this movie sounds like a serviceable prequel. I need to ask you for some idol anime recs one of these days.

    Btw, what’s all the Kuroshitsuji drama going on?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Mmm. I think you should give Wake Up, Girls! a fair shake. Maybe not in one of your polls since it wouldn’t be as good without the prequel movie but eventually!

      I’ll have to watch more, too, but I would love to give you recommendations in the future.

      Hmmm. 3 or so months ago I wanted to post about Kuroshitsuji since it became very evident that a theory was about to be confirmed. And now that it’s been confirmed I feel like I missed out. But I might do a BIG REVEALS post that has evidence supporting the theory as well as my own personal take on it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Added it to my list after reading your series review on it.

        The 2 Ciels thing? Did he actually have a twin then? And wow, I hope no one who cares about spoilers wanders into this comment.

        Liked by 1 person

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